Another thing worth mentioning is that I’ve noticed abandoned buildings here and there along the road. They seem to have been developed to accommodate travelers. I asked the feudal lord about those.
“Those were built by my dad when the roads were being built. They’re lodging meant for the workers. They served their purpose when the roads were completed, so we could demolish them now, but it would take us considerable effort. In the end, we decided to just leave them alone. Besides, it rains frequently in this region, so we figured leaving them be would do the travelers some good. Do you have something in mind?” [Porco]
Personally, I think it’s a waste to just leave all those structures like that. Porco-sama will have to deal with various problems like hiring personnel, but I think he could turn those places into something akin to the parking areas or drive-through from my previous life.
“Hmm… In order to spread word of a local specialty, a lot of people need to taste it.
People have to eat even if they’re in a hurry, and even if they’re going to be eating inside their carriage, I’m sure there’s a big difference between eating dried meat and freshly made gyoza.
Boiled gyoza might be tricky, but if it’s fried, deep-fried, or steamed gyoza, then depending on how they’re prepared, I think it can work out.
Actually, I’ve also been worrying about those abandoned structures along the highway. We can’t let bandits or other ruffians take root in them, so we’ve been sending people to patrol the roads irregularly, but perhaps it would be best to station someone soon.” [Porco]
The feudal lord’s reaction was surprisingly good when I told him about my idea about turning those abandoned structures into places akin to parking areas or drive-throughs. Also, listening to the feudal lord reminded me of the police boxes back in my previous life.
“You could station one or two guards in them. In my opinion, just having a few guards around to consult when needed is a lot more reassuring than having none.” [Ryouma]
“I think so too. And gyoza isn’t that hard to cook in the first place. Among the people who submitted their own take on the gyoza, there was even a guy who rarely cooked. If a guy like that could cook gyoza after being taught a little, then spreading the method to cook gyoza to the rest of the villages shouldn’t be difficult.” [Porco]
“Yes. Moreover, there seem to be a lot of ingredients in Fatma Territory that’s not being used.” [Ryouma]
Like crabs or octopuses or creatures resembling squids and sea cucumbers.
Even back at Earth, octopuses were known as devil fish, and there were even foreign countries that at one point never considered eating them. Of course, there’s no harm in refusing to eat squid or other similar creatures. That’s the ‘food culture’ in those places, after all. Not wanting to eat something because of its appearance is in itself a part of the development of a food culture.
“Sometimes people don’t want to eat something because of how an ingredient looks. But if you look at it another way, if they just can’t see how the ingredient looks, maybe they’ll be more inclined to eat it.” [Ryouma]
“Now that you mention it, when making gyoza you have to crush the meat first and then wrap it with gyoza wrapper. What’s more is that Gyozas are small enough to be eaten whole, so the ingredients looking weird will never be an issue! …Fu fu, fu ha ha ha ha! Fugo!?” [Porco]
The feudal lord suddenly started laughing, and then just as abruptly snorted.
Because of that the villagers all turned to us.
The feudal lord didn’t seem to mind that one bit and continued.
“Interesting. Very interesting. I’m impressed you were able to think this far. Countless chefs and proud housewives have sent me their recipes, but you’re the first one to go as far as to think of how to sell the product. But then again, I’d only asked for recipes, so I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
I know I was the one who asked you to come up with a local specialty, but I never expected that you’d be able to come up with an answer like this at your age. As expected of the Barley Tea Sage, I suppose. I know you don’t like to be called as such, but the situation just begs for it. Hang on. I suppose given the situation we’re in, it would be more apt to refer to you as ‘the Barley Tea and Gyoza Sage’?” [Porco]
Why was my title turned into something I would want to eat during summertime!? Porco-sama doesn’t look like he’s joking, though.
“There’ll be a lot of preparations and circumstances to consider on my end, so I can’t decide right away, but I’ll consider your proposition. It was truly a convincing proposition. Thank you.” [Porco]
“I’m unworthy of your word, my lord. Besides, the only reason I was able to propose this idea was because of the hot spring job you gave me. If not for that, I would have at most proposed a hot pot that made use of the ingredients that could be found around here, such as fish and tofu.
“Oh? I’m curious how that will taste all the same, but I’m even more curious how the hot springs could have given you the idea. If I recall correctly, we talked about all sorts of things that day.” [Porco]
If a reason had to be given, it would have to be the graffiti map in that hot spring shed that was outfitted with nothing but the bare necessities.
If you’ve ever tried to draw a map yourself, you’ll find that it’s surprisingly hard to draw one.
Of course, it’s not as difficult if you’re just going to be drawing the area around your house or a place that you frequent, but drawing a map of the entire region plus its main roads and geographical features… Unless you know the whole region like the back of your hand, that’s not something that one should easily be able to do. At the very least, I can’t do it.
And while it’s true that a feudal lord should know his territory in and out, why would he hang a map of his territory at the top of a mountain in what is otherwise a private space? Is it that important? Is there a special reason behind it?
The map was detailed, so I was able to find out that the mountain was not just one of the few mountains in Fatma Territory, but also the tallest. In other words, the peak of that mountain provided the highest and most extensive view of the region.
Just how much did the late feudal lord love his people and region for him to have his grave built on the peak of such a mountain?
According to the map, the road I passed through made up only a tiny portion of the region. There should be no mistaking that. After all, I went straight to Shikumu in order to participate in the Mud Salamander job. I didn’t take any detours.
When I saw that map and spoke to Piguu-san, I found out for the first time that there were hot springs other than the one on that mountain.
I’ve been having a great time at Shikumu Village, but this region still has plenty of charm I’ve yet to see.
“When I thought about it like that, my perspective gradually changed.” [Ryouma]